PerspectivePlant Biology

Chimeric plants—the best of both worlds

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Science  07 Aug 2020:
Vol. 369, Issue 6504, pp. 618-619
DOI: 10.1126/science.abd1641

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Summary

The cutting of the shoot of one plant (the scion) and joining, or grafting, to another (the rootstock) has been a practice of growers for millennia. The resulting chimeric organisms have enabled propagation of fruits and vegetables with desired characteristics, control of tree size to facilitate fruit harvests, and preservation of elite wine cultivar scions on rootstocks resistant to phylloxera, a destructive insect. Most plant species will graft to themselves, some to closely related species, but rarely will plants successfully graft to more distant relatives (1). On page 698 of this issue, Notaguchi et al. (2) identify a key enzymatic activity that promotes establishment of grafts between the tobacco plant Nicotiana benthamiana and a broad range of species. They demonstrate that two incompatible species can be grafted using tissue from N. benthamiana as an interscion. This could substantially expand the combinations of species with which it is possible to generate chimeras.

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